Author's Note: This may look familiar to some people. It was my first story originally posted back in 2006. However, as my writing style has grown and changed over the years, and several things have need of being tweaked in the Undying Friendship Series, I am reposting it as I edit. All previous reviews should remain intact.


Never Again

by Nieriel Raina

Prologue

Never Again

7, Fourth Age, Ithilien

Mid-summer

A lone, unmoving figure stood on a rise of ground at the edge of the forest. Tall… lithe… beautiful, the wind teased strands of his golden hair, blowing them across his bright, grey eyes. Slowly, a hand raised and long fingers tucked the rebellious strands behind his delicately-pointed ears, before slowly lowering once more. He stared into the distance, looking to the west as the sun sank into the horizon. A frown creased his brow, and a low groan came from deep within him as the yearning took over his heart.

During times such as these Legolas wondered if he still had a heart. Often, he felt empty except for the continuous pain in his chest; dull most of the time, but when he dwelled upon it, it became sharper. As the longing grew in intensity, he asked himself the question he knew was on the minds of every elf in Ithilien. 'Why am I still here? Why have I not sailed?'

There had to be a reason, but right now, it would not present itself. His mind was too overcome by the longing in his heart. Only one thing was there – the sea – always the sea. In his mind, he could hear the crash of the waves, smell the salt in the air and hear the cries of the gulls. And as he dwelt on the object of his desire, he softly questioned himself out loud. "Why am I still here?"

But no answer came. He had forgotten.

Lifting his head again towards the west, he let the song of the sea start to consume him. The pain of the longing was bittersweet. The song was beautiful, yet as it called to him, a pain throbbed in his heart. Slowly, he became aware of another ache there, and he searched his heart for the reason for it.

In his mind, he heard a low growl, and he gasped. "Gimli..."

The name was spoken in a whisper as he remembered, and he grimaced at the thought of his friend. The dwarf would have his hide if he knew where his thoughts dwelt. Both Gimli and Aragorn would be hurt to know that he questioned himself and would be devastated that he had actually, for a few moments, forgotten why he still remained. But it was so hard to stay focused on his reasons for staying when he could not see them. In truth, the elf loved his work restoring Ithilien, but it never replaced the desire in his heart to sail west; and his work here kept him from those who he loved above all else, his reasons for remaining in Middle-earth a while longer.

'How is it possible that I have not seen Gimli in over a year?' Legolas questioned himself.

They both knew better. Legolas frequently needed his friends' companionship to combat the sea longing or it overtook him. It had even been six months since he had seen Aragorn and Arwen, not to mention three since he had seen Faramir and Eowyn. Had he been that caught up in his work?

No, he had been that caught up in his sea longing.

With great effort, Legolas pushed the sea to the back of his mind. He wished he could push it completely out, at least for a time. Turning towards the trees, Legolas made his decision. He was going to see his friends, no matter what must be put on hold here. It grieved him greatly that he had allowed the sea and his work to prevent his normal visits (twice a year) to the Glittering Caves. It grieved him greater that he had forgotten their lord in the face of his longing.

"Never again", Legolas swore to himself. With a heavy heart and a guilty conscience, Legolas headed back towards the elven settlement of Asgarnen.

To Be Continued…


Asgarnen (Ahs-GAR-nehn) - meaning 'rushing water' - the elven settlement in Ithilien, named for the large, rocky stream that flows nearby.